Wicklow captain Leighton Glynn received a straight red card after only six minutes for an altercation with Clare defender Marty McMahon.
Even though Wicklow stayed in touch until half-time, going in just a point down (1-4 to 0-6), Clare took control after the break and ran out easy winners.
Wicklow manager Harry Murphy pointed to Glynn’s dismissal afterwards, declaring: “It had a huge impact on the game. We knew it was going to be tough taking on Clare in their own back-yard, so it was going to be doubly difficult when you lose a man after five minutes.”
With the sides tied at four points apiece after 25 minutes, a Wicklow handling error left Clare captain Gary Brennan in for the game’s first goal. Nevertheless Wicklow hit back with points by Seanie Furlong and Conor McGraynor before half-time.
McGraynor was on target again a minute after the break to level matters but Clare, with the wind at their backs, used the extra man to great effect and built up a lead they never relinquished.
Shane Brennan grabbed Clare’s second goal on 57 minutes and even though Wicklow, through substitute James Stafford, had a goal late on, the outcome was never in doubt.
Clare manager Colm Collins is now looking forward to next Sunday’s away clash with Tipperary and commented: “If we can get our two points there we’ll be in great shape but it’s going to be a massive game.”
Scorers for Clare: D Tubridy (0-7) 3 f’s, S Brennan (1-1) G Brennan (1-0), S McGrath (0-2), P McMahon (0-2) 1 f, S Collins (0-1).
Wicklow scorers: S Furlong (0-3) 2 f’s, J Stafford (1-0), C McGraynor (0-2) 1 f,
N Gaffney, P McWalter, R Finn (0-1) each.
CLARE: P De Loughrey, K Harnett, G Kelly, Dean Ryan, S Hickey, E Coughlan, M McMahon, G Brennan (Capt.), C O’Connor, Sean Collins, S McGrath, S Brennan, M O’Leary, D Tubridy, P Collins.
Subs: Stephen Collins for Harnett inj (42), A Clohessy for Sean Collins (54), P McMahon for O’Leary (57), D Hickey for O’Connor (61), R Donnelly for Tubridy (61), David Ryan for P Collins (65).
WICKLOW: R Lambert, C Hyland, D Power, A Byrne, P Earls, K Murphy, D Healy, N Gaffney, A McLaughlin, D Hayden, P McWalter, R Finn, S Furlong, C McGraynor, L Glynn (Capt.).
Subs: J Stafford for Earls (half-time), P Dalton for McGraynor (43), C Murphy for McWalter (51), P McLaughlin for Power B/C (57), J Sheerin for Gaffney (59).
Referee: S Joy (Kerry)